The more I grow older, the more I reminisce about my childhood.
Back when life was all about exploring the world and having fun with your friends. Back when friendships were in their most pure and authentic form. Back when playing hide and seek or being fans of the same comic book character was enough to effortlessly start a new friendship.
I'm all grown up now, and I can say with certainty that things are worse than I expected.
Obviously, no one would expect their lives to be as simple as when they were kids. But adulthood wears us down in more ways than we realize. And when it comes to friendships, things get too complicated, even by adult standards.
Friendships and Adulthood
According to the Survey Center on American Life, only 48% of men are satisfied with their friendships.
30% of men opened up to a friend about their personal feelings in the past week.
And only 21% of men say they received emotional support from a friend, compared to 40% of women.
Another interesting finding is that childhood friendships are prevalent in the US, with 67% of Americans having a friend they've known since they were kids.
But if we're expecting to make new friends as easily as when we were kids, we're setting ourselves up for disappointment, according to psychologist Marisa G. Franco.
"Sociologists have identified the ingredients that must be present for us to form friendships effortlessly. This is unplanned interaction and shared vulnerability."
But being vulnerable in this day and age isn't a small feat.
Some of our relationships can leave us disappointed, scared and wounded, and over time, until opening up just doesn't feel like it's worth the hassle.
Sooner or later, all this accumulated trauma makes us wary when we meet new people.
Being cautious can protect our mental health, but it can also prevent us from investing in other people and prevent us from forming deep and meaningful friendships.
Age of Social Media
Social media has made our relationships unnecessarily complex and shallow.
The constant comparisons with unrealistic and seemingly "perfect" lives posted on social media, overwhelm us with negative emotions and feelings of inadequacy and loneliness.
The toxic nature of social media leads to alienation. And here’s the paradox that comes with the widespread use of social media: We can get in touch with people on the other side of the globe, but at the same time, they alienate us from the people right next to us.
Our Need for Connection
We all have a deep-seated desire to connect with each other.
No one can deny the difficulty of getting out of our comfort zone and navigating through the complexity of human relationships. However, spending all of our lives alone is even harder. Laughter and tears, memories and emotions, are all meant to be shared with our loved ones.
As we deal with the responsibilities and challenges of adulthood, having friends to stand by our side is vital.
Friends become our home away from home, a sanctuary where we can be our authentic selves, free from any kind of facade.
Yes, making friends as an adult can require extra effort, but I encourage you to try your best to put in that extra effort. Maybe join a gym or book club, strike up a conversation with a stranger at the grocery store or even try and reach out to an old friend. Your next best friend could be out there waiting for you!